The wari is an annual pilgrimage event in which devotees walk for the holy sites of Dehu and Alandi near Pune to Pandharpur in Solapur district. The traditional journey, which is more than 100 years old, involves carrying the padukas (footwear) of Sants Tukaram and Dnyaneshwar, in two palkhis (palanquin) with devotees (called warkaris) following on foot. The arduous journey takes at least 20 days, when the procession reaches Pandharpur, the seat of Vithala and Rukmini, the deity worshipped in the Bhakti tradition, on the day of Ashari Akadashi, have a bath in the holy river of Chandrabhaga, and offer obeisance to the Lord God.
For the event, warkaris from all over the state and from outside the state gather in Dehu and Alandhi, in groups, which are called Dindis. Most of these Warkaris are from the farmer community from rural Maharashtra.
This is one event when Pune city drops everything and gets into the groove of devotion, bhakti, especially on Fergusson College Road from where the procession passes on its way to Pandharpur from Dehu/Alandi.
This year the wari reached Pune June 25.
The Warkaris walk hundreds of kms to reach Pandharpur. The Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj palkhi starts from Alandi, and travels through Pune, Saswad, Jejuri, Vhalhe, Lonand, Taradgaon, Phaltan, Barad, Natepute, Malshiras, Velapur, Bhandishegaon, Vakhari to reach Pandharpur.
The Sant Tukaram Maharaj palkhi, which starts from Dehu travels through Akurdi, Pune, Loni Kalbhor, Yavat, Varvand, Baramati, Sansar, Lasurne, Nimgaon Ketaki, Indapur, Sarati, Akaluj, Borgaon, Pirachi Kuroli, Vakhari to Pandharpur. Both the Palakhi merge together in Vakhari, just prior to Pandharpur.
Warkaris mostly dress in dothi-kurta or women in sari, with gandh on their forehead, playing musical instruments such as, cymbals, mridang, veena (which is kind of a signature instrument for a warkari), and singing Abhangs.
Each dindi has a truck allocated to carry luggage and food items.
As the warkaris pass through towns and villages, local people contribute as per their capacity to the food either by donating raw material or by serving food.
As the Warkaris stop at towns and villages, they organise a special event called 'ringan', which literally means circle, where apart from singing, and playing, they also participate in games.
Most of the prayers chanted by the Warkaris come from the poems composed by Tukaram in praise of the Vithoba or Vithalla.
Lord Vithoba is a variation of the pan-Hindu god Vishnu.
The pilgrimage culminates on the day of Aashadhi Ekadashi at Pandharpur.
The 'bhakti movement,' of which the wari is an integral part, begun in Maharashtra, at the same time it begun elsewhere as a reaction to the absolute power of brahminical tyranny. In short, the bhakti movement proffers the view that to reach to god we don't need a third party involvement (the brahmin priests); everyone can reach out to god through bhakti, devotion. Hence the chant: "Vithalla, Vithalla..."